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Poster: Purple Gel Date: Jan 3, 2006 8:25am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: What did Jerry Garcia think of his peers?

I know that Jerry thought that there were many guitarists that could do what he did as well, if not better than he. In the recent A&E biography, Steve Parrish says as much.I think the debate about who is the greatest Guitar Player is subjective, ultimately it is what a musician makes you feel that reveals his greatness IMHO. Using that definition, many people would choose Jerry over any other. Jerry, Clapton, Santana, Kimmock and many others could play any style of music and each has his own strengths. Jerry, to me, is clearly the greatest riffer I ever heard, and along with Santana played his emotions better than almost anyone. I mean you can listen to 100 Sugarees, Other Ones, or any number of tunes and never hear the same sequences repeated, and you can sense his emotional state at the time. I never get that from listening to Clapton. Jerry played what was in his head better than anyone. I would put Jerry, Kimmock, Clapton, Santana, Duane Allman, Jorma, FZ, Hendrix all in my short list of greatest guitar players, and not neccessarily in that order. I would also put David Gilmour, and Pete Townshend in there. I also have always thought that Martin Barre and Dave Davies are underrated. I am sure there are some that are slipping my mind at the moment. As I said I believe this is, to a large extent, subjective. As for Jimmy Page, I love Zepplin, but for me there are dozens of better guitarists.

This post was modified by Purple Gel on 2005-12-30 18:30:54

This post was modified by Purple Gel on 2006-01-03 16:25:24

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Poster: Robman Date: Dec 30, 2005 11:48pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: What did Jerry Garcia think of his peers? Who's the best guitarist?

C'mon, folks. Trying to agree on the "best guitarist" is like trying to pick the "best pianist" or "best novelist." Who was the best pianist? Liszt? Chopin? Tatum? Evans? Jarrett? Or the best novelist: Dostoevsky? Joyce? Faulkner? Proust? Tolstoy? Dickens? Tolkien?

My point: when you reach a certain point of creative talent, artists become incomparable in terms of "all-around-bestness." They are different, they have relative strengths and weaknesses, and they appeal more or less to different folks, but none can be (or "beat") all of the others.

IMHO, Garcia's relative strength was his ability to engage in constantly surprising collective improvisation (at least when he was at the peak of his powers). This is not the standard "guitar hero" metric, which emphasizes instead the performance of technically flawless and largely self-referential solos on top of a backing rhythm section. This difference is, I think, the main source of the bewildering controversy over Garcia's "rating" as a guitarist. (Typical amazon.com comment: "I can play guitar better than Garcia!" My mental response: "When is your next gig?") Yes indeed, Garcia was no Hendrix, no Clapton, no Skunk Baxter--but neither are/were Hendrix, Clapton, or Baxter a Garcia. Imagine Clapton, Hendrix, or Baxter on stage with Lesh & Co. (at their peak) and then imagine the resulting train wreck.

One last example: There were and are many, many, many trumpet players with technical prowess vastly exceeding that of Miles Davis on his best day ever--as Miles would have been the first to admit. Odd, isn't it, that Miles nevertheless remains one of the all-time greats?

Thanks heavens for diversity!

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Poster: Sluggo714 Date: Jan 2, 2006 12:08am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: What did Jerry Garcia think of his peers? Who's the best guitarist?

This is one helluva thread. So much things to say. But and however, I noticed that the guitar talents mentioned here as among the "best" ever would comprise a pretty talented list and came fairly close to naming all of the greats. Maybe even as a community we could cull together nominations and vote, not to determine anything, but just to see what kind of results we get. I'm sure old Jerry would come close to topping the list, regardless of whether he's truly the "best". For my money there was only one "best" and that was Jimi Hendrix, remembering of course that all "bests" are subjective (and a kick in the shins to the feller who said we could use statistics to determine "best" quarterbacks- if we base it solely on stats then it's not Montana, but Marino by a looooong shot.)

Here are a few more names, some folks who seemed absent from the discussion, to add to the best guitarists of all the times:

Steve Howe
Leo Kottke
Keller Williams
Stanley Jordan
Al Dimeola

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Poster: Cerro Date: Jan 26, 2006 2:05pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: What did Jerry Garcia think of his peers? Who's the best guitarist?

"Who was the best pianist? Liszt? Chopin? Tatum? Evans? Jarrett?"

Evans and Jarrett weren't even in the same universe as Art Tatum. Not even remotely close.

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Poster: SNKleom Date: Jan 1, 2006 2:29pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: What did Jerry Garcia think of his peers? Who's the best guitarist?

Thank you for your intelligent, articulate reply to this socratically impossible-to-answer question. I'm sure Jerry would agree that there are infinite slots available for musicians who at chosen moments, are infused with the divine ability to transcend the ordinary. And when judging their contribution, one must look at their contribution across the fullness of time.

All the guitarists mentioned in these posts are among the very best at their respective metier; and we are not arguing football statistics, where we can say Montana was better than Marino.

As for what Jerry thought of his peers; he expressed nothing but universal respect for any number of musicians. But I did hear him say that when he listened to the improvisations of pianist Art Tatum, it made him want to simply "hang it up."

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Poster: Robman Date: Jan 1, 2006 10:51pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: What did Jerry Garcia think of his peers? Who's the best guitarist?

That reminds me of Fats Waller's quip upon learning that Tatum was in the audience during one of Waller's performances: "Ladies and gentlemen, I play piano, but God is in the house tonight." Legend has it that Waller then stopped playing and asked Tatum to take the bench instead.

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Poster: SNKleom Date: Jan 2, 2006 2:10am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: What did Jerry Garcia think of his peers? Who's the best guitarist?

That's a great quote. I have a couple of Tatum CDs, and I can easily grasp how he's a musician's musician. It sounds like he has twleve fingers on each hand.

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Poster: kayatosh Date: Oct 13, 2007 7:52am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: What did Jerry Garcia think of his peers?

great thread. I came to it while googling whether garcia had ever played with clapton. Garcia for me is the best guitarist/singer musician b/c, as P.gel explained above, you can feel the emotion in his playing. He made the guitar sing, and was a truly emotive slide player, like Duane. Just got done listening to Jerry sitting in with the Almans et. al. on 12/31/73 (go to wolfgang's vault and dial that one up - wow!) At that show, Garcia fit seamlessly into the AB sound, improvising as if walking drunk on a tight rope, but never falling, just soaring. Powerful singer too. Listen to that 70's voice - beautiful, heartfelt, tender. Even his froggy 11/24/78 voice hits me in the heart.

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Poster: heptone Date: Dec 30, 2005 3:30pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: What did Jerry Garcia think of his peers? Who's the best guitarist?

The most mind blowing guitarist i've ever heard is Django Reinhardt.

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Poster: Earl B. Powell Date: Dec 31, 2005 10:05am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: What did Jerry Garcia think of his peers? Who's the best guitarist?

I recall taking a much younger lady to a 91 or 92 JGB show in Charlotte. Other than the usual Trucking on the radio, she had no other experience at all with Jerry or the Dead. The show was OK, a little draggy and Jerry's voice was a bit tired. He made up for much of it with some very fine guitar playing. Unlike most GD shows, I really pay attention at Jerry gigs...and I kept wondering all night whether my "date" would enjoy the time. I glanced over at her after the Melvin > Jerry solos during The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down...and tears were streaming down her face. She got it. So maybe he wasn't the best...but boy was he magic.

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Poster: brendanmcauley Date: Jan 20, 2006 8:33am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: What did Jerry Garcia think of his peers? Who's the best guitarist?

That is a great story Powell, right on!

I think jerry was relatively quiet about himself-this is obvious. He always said that he never wanted to promote too many things or politics because he knew he was influential. His peers I think were star struck by him. This is my own interpretation, being someone who was born in 1970. I saw my first show in 1987 in Hartford. But I was always keyed into this and looked for tid bits on jerry and his peers when ever I could. I recall Al Demieola being someone that jerry called, and I could be mistaken but then I have belived it for 15 years- : "the best guitarist alive".

I know that at one gig John Lennon was quoted after watching jerry jam with some others "is any guitar louder than Jerry's"..so there was mixed jelousy almost about him. I think there was always such a mistique layed on him by the deadheads that other guitarists had to respect him obviously and is well seen in Festival express. At one point no body even bothers to jam with him because he is just too dam good!

As for jerry's take on others, I don't think he handed out compliments too easily and I don't think he cared if anyone else in the spotlight competing with him because he was always amazed that fans stayed to watch the dead play I rememebr he once said " I mean why don't they all just leave"...refering to the idea it was great to see them be interested in his music but they were going to jam regardless-but it was cool peoeple stuck around.

But he loved colaboration- again see festival express. But seriously, I don't thnk jer was impressed by many others at all because something tells me that his take was that its not up to him to be impressed. I know this; jerry once said in a RS interview that each note had a little spriit to it and that it floated freely. He also talked about playing the silence and that the music existed but needed to be temperd with the right silence. Kesey described his playing as snakes slithering between loosly stacked chords- what a poet!

No body was like jerry and I don't think he cared and was not impressed easily. It was not up to him to like anyone else- I think he wanted to be liked by others. Grateful dog is a wodnerful documentary where you get the feeling he was just a regular guy who really would do anything for anyone. Its sort of sad to see how much he put himslef out for others in just the most minute of ways. Ultimately it was his road to God..or wherever he wanted to be...rip jgb luv ya bro!

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Poster: rizzalater Date: Jul 1, 2013 6:12am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: What did Jerry Garcia think of his peers?

Are You kiddin' Me. Clapton Plays From The Heart. If You Never Get That From Listening To Clapton. You Obviously Don't Listen To Him Enough. Santana Also Plays From The Heart. I Think It's A Bias Comment Coming From A "Jerry Is My Favorite Guitaraist" Fan. Lets Get Real.In Order, Hendrix- Clapton-Santana-Allman Knopfler. Don't Be Bias Cause You're A Dead Head. Garcia Is Great But Not In My Top 5. I Go By Talent. Garcia Is Very Over-Rated.

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Poster: rizzalater Date: Jul 1, 2013 6:53am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: What did Jerry Garcia think of his peers?

Can we please stop this crap and get some non-deadhead comments. Besides i would like to quote B.B King who said and i quote " I think eric clapton is the best rock guitar player". And that's coming from a legend who is actually a real guitar player. You can go to any top list and garcia wouldn't even be in the top 10. Let's get real.